- Alaska Airlines connects over 100 cities
- Seattle and Portland account for 60% of company's traffic (core cities)
- 20 new markets were added in 2015
- 8% capacity increase was projected in 2016
- Alaska's major rivals are the 4 major airlines
- Delta is the most active of competitors. 60% of Alaska's Seattle capacity is under competition from Delta.
- Competition (route overlap) is expected to grow by 13% in 2016.
- Both major and ultra-low-cost airlines may potentially compete on price, forcing Alaska to bring down prices in their core markets.
- About 60% of earnings come from the West Coast region, while Alaska contributes about 15%.
- Yet the demand suffers from seasonality.
- In order to compensate for this - Alaska Airlines expands to popular holiday destinations, such as Hawaii and Costa Rica.
- "People focus" is one of the primary values of the company. Both internally and externally.
- "Hassle-free experience" can also be understood as part of the broad people-focused approach
- Company states the need to create a compelling brand that would "reflect how customers feel about" the company.
Although Brand 24 analysis showed 3/4 of mentions being "positive", I decided to take a closer look at what people are actually saying.
I focused on the qualitative analysis of Yelp reviews (from company's official Yelp page) and tweets hash-tagged #alaskaairlines.
Over 500 Yelp reviews and 1000 tweets were uploaded in MAXQDA software for coding and further analysis.
This analysis allowed to identify a number of important issues.
- Customers mostly mention the quality of service (most of the time in a positive key, often - in a harshly negative way)
- Customers also value reasonable prices/good value for money offered by Alaska Airlines.
- Loyalty program is quite popular among customers.
Yet, these data suffered from a clear self-selection bias: only those customers who hold strong opinions about Alaska Airlines would bother to write/tweet a review.
Also, due to the nature of these websites, there was almost no information on how people perceive the brand itself.
The next step was obvious - I needed to interview Alaska's customers. I waited until the work week was over and hopped on the plane to Seattle.